I inadvertently got my start in understanding gin from my mother. She’s a herbalist so I learnt about herbs and flowers and flavours from as early as I can remember. I taste the difference between echinacea angustifolia and echinacea purpurea from ten paces, but I also learned about things like liquorice root and angelica and cardamom and juniper. I learned about essential oils and how they are made through distillation. I learned about the volatility of natural oils, how scent profiles, and indeed flavour profiles, are made up of top, middle and base notes. All the techniques I use to critique gin, all learned at my mother’s knee.
So for Mother’s Day I wanted to design a cocktail especially for my mum. She’s quite particular about what she likes. Nothing too sweet and nothing too strong, but she loves flowers. So I started with flowers; lavender and elderflower. Cocktails are about balancing sweet, sour and strong, so sweet if from homemade lavender syrup, and St Germain Elderflower liqueur, the sour from a dash of lemon juice and the strong from (wait for it…) gin!
Combine syrup, liqueur, juice and gin in a tall glass with lots of ice, stir gently. Top up glass with chilled sparkling mineral water. If you, or your mum, have a sweet tooth you can leave out the lemon juice and use a good cloudy lemonade instead of mineral water. Serve with a twist of lemon peel as a garnish, or with a lavender flower if you have one.
*To make a small batch of lavender syrup combine 50g of sugar with 50mL of boiling water and a handful of dried lavender flowers. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and leave for about five minutes then strain out the lavender flower. Chill before using. The syrup will last for about 2 weeks in the fridge. And I recommend putting it in the fridge straight away for helpful gentleman gin drinkers clean up the kitchen and throw it out.